Wednesday, March 31, 2010

And Then Chuck Norris Gave Me $5

So, what did the mother melon say to the daughter melon when the daughter melon claimed that she was going to run off and get married? ...
"You cantaloupe!"

Hilarious, right? Okay, how about this one: Where did the king hide his armies? ...
In his sleevies.

Although I wish I could take credit for these, alas, I must concede to the best joke teller of all time, Caroline Dale Kraft (the fact that Mr. Belding apparently came up with the first one and various Centre students - all jealous of Caroline's keen wit and sophisticated humor - have tried to take credit for the second is beside the point). Caroline's her name, puns are her game. Best friends + corny jokes = recipe for a smile.

Additional Recipes On My Mind This Morning...
I mentioned my penchant for interesting wine bottles in last Friday's post. Whereas some might find actually drinking the wine to be the relaxing and entertaining part of the experience, my enjoyment starts among the aisles of reds, whites, and blushes. My basic parameters are price and type - nothing over $20 and typically in the Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, or Riesling section. I like to check out the Kentucky wines first, but I can't say that location is a matter of principle for me. I will occasionally buy South African, French, and/or Australian wines. And, carefully drive them home in my Hyundai Elantra.

Yesterday, these were the two that caught my attention. The red is a 2007 California Pinot Noir. I think it caught my eye because something about the label reminded me of the canvases Mom and Adrienne helped me paint for my house. I like the punch of red amongst the tans, mellow greens, and blacks as much as the unfinished, loose drawing lines that envelope them. The font on the label does not tickle my fancy, but it is not offensively puff-paint, bubble-like either. The white is a 2007 California Pinot Grigio. No deep meaning here; I initially picked this one up because I am in fact the middle daughter. I would contest, however, that I am not in fact a drama queen. Nope, my life has been one linear path of normal. ... Anyway, I really love this label. The austerity of the color and design palette is refreshing and I appreciate the mix of cursive and print (what I typically tend to do). I simply think this "looks like me."

Suggestion: When you find a wine bottle, restaurant, completely unnecessary, but bought nonetheless, dress, that you adore, check out the company website. You will likely find other items of interest, blogs you'll enjoy, causes worthy of your support, and/or captivating images and graphics.

Recipe #2: Foods That You Can't Disassociate From A Memory That Matters
For me, items that fall into this category include: Country ham, Shoney's weekend buffet, Apple Rings from the Burkesville Shell gas station, dorm room pineapple and ham pizza, first apartment peanut butter milkshakes, my mother's homemade bread (I'm going to try to convince her to do a blog entry or maybe even a video soon), Chaney's ice cream.

In Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life: stories and recipes from my kitchen table, Wizenberg artfully explores this very concept, how food can be a tribute to and/or a comforting reminder of a person or experience that mattered. In one of my favorite chapters, "The Best of All Possible Worlds," readers are treated to a story of first love, fantastic food, and the bon vivant lifestyle of a 20 year old American student living in Paris. Wizenberg closes the chapter, "Every now and then, we still e-mail. He usually finds me about once a year, and we swap letters for a week or so. It's always awkward, but still, I'm glad for it. Sometimes I can't help but wonder how things might have been if I hadn't had a return ticket, or if he hadn't been eighteen. For a long time, I dreamed about that bed under the eaves. Some nights, I even thought I could hear our perfectly bilingual children twittering like birds between the rafters. But most of the time, I just bake tarte Tatin."

Maybe we should all spend a little time this weekend, making or buying those foods that represent our own French love interest.:)

Tarte Tatin
Yields: 8 servings

Juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
5-6 Golden Delicious Apples
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
About 14 ounces puff pastry

In large bowl, stir together the lemon juice and 1/2 c. of the sugar. Peel and quarter the apples, trimming away the cores such that each quarter has a flat inner side. Put the apples in the bowl with the lemon juice and sugar and toss well. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in an 8 or 9 inch skillet, set over medium heat, melt 4 tbsp. butter. Add remaining sugar, along with 3-4 tbsp. of the lemon-sugar juices. Stir to mix. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring regularly for about 15 minutes (mixture should be smooth, bubbly, and a pale caramel color).

Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the apple pieces, arranging them rounded side down in a decorative pattern. Arrange a second layer of apples on top wherever they fit, closely packed. Cut the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into dice, and distribute them evenly over the apples.

Preheat oven to 375.

Cook the apples over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes. Every now and then, spoon the caramel over them and press the apples gently with the back of a spoon. Do not allow the apples to get entirely soft or the liquid to turn dark brown. Remove from the heat.

On a floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to a thickness of about 3/16". Using a sharp, thin knife, trace a circle in the pastry about 10" in diameter. Trim away excess dough. Carefully lay the pastry circle over the apples in the skillet, tucking the overlap between the apples and the side of the pan.

Place the skillet on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the pastry has risen and is dry and golden brown. Remove the skillet from the oven, and let it rest for a minute. Then tilt the pan slightly and look down the inside edge: there will be juice down there. Pour as much of it as you can into the sink or trash can. Then place a serving platter upside-down over the skillet and, working quickly and carefully, invert the tart onto the platter. Rearrange any apple slices that may have slipped or stuck to the skillet.

Serve warm, preferably within an hour or two of baking.

*I plan to try this sometime this weekend. I'll report back - with success or disaster stories - on Monday.*

Recipe #3: Your Younger Sister Dating Someone From a Really Wonderful Family
I came home on Wednesday to find one of the most creative, most thoughtful gifts anyone has ever given to me. Of course, my eyes immediately lit up when I saw the 12 pack of Diet Dr. Pepper. My attention was quickly diverted, however, to the card carefully propped up along the wall of red, white, and black refreshment (forget Mom and Adrienne painting for me - maybe Sketchbook reminded me of an alcoholic DDP). I did not recognize the handwriting on the envelope, yet, it never bothered me that I had locked my door. This is Marrowbone. More importantly, this guest had left me a handwritten card and soda. I didn't care.

I opened the card and immediately thought: "recipe for a smile." Teresa had written a poem on three pale pink post-it notes that embodied the things I narcissistically talk about in pillowbook. I've said all along that doing this blog is an exercise of discipline for me. I do it because it is something I expect of myself three times/week, because I am more inclined to follow through with ideals and ideas once I have written them down, because I feel more inspired in general when I am writing. I would be lying, however, if I said that is not reaffirming to know that people actually read it.

More importantly, though, this gift reflected the values that I attempt to stress in each post: the "little things," "personal touches," "the value of community," "make sure _____________ looks like __________," "family." Teresa's gift was creativity, genuineness, and wit all wrapped in a 15x6x6 cardboard box.

I give credence to the idea that we should know how our friends take their coffee and how they like their eggs. But, I think "knowing their handwriting and they, ours" should be added to this list. I am so glad to know Teresa's. Next week, I hope several others will be reminded of my cursive/print mix chicken scratch.

*By the way, hot with vanilla spiced rum coffeemate (light brown), no sugar; scrambled with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cheese.*

*Title: Andy insists that if you ever tell a joke that flatlines, just add, "and then Chuck Norris did ___________" or "and then I found $5," and you'll find some ounce of redemption."


  1. I so agree that you do not REALLY know someone until you know their handwriting : )

  2. It is especially nice when your friends have perfect handwriting. Seriously, how many have told you this over the course of your life??

  3. Liza,
    Theatre group, my dream too.

  4. So glad to hear that, Linda. I had a couple of people say the same on facebook. It's something that I really do want to see happen in the coming months. Oh, the fun it would be.